Serpentine queues are back at the Kolkata airport as travel rush during the holiday season coincides with alleged shortage of security personnel.
The queues at the security check counters in the domestic section during the rush hours are often reaching the entry gates to the terminal building.
Officials of several airlines said domestic flights taking off from Kolkata are at times getting delayed because passengers are stuck in long queues. An official of one airline said that often there is delay in opening the boarding gates by security personnel because of shortage of personnel.
“At times several passengers of a particular flight are stuck in security check queues, delaying the flight,” said an airline official.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is responsible for the airport’s security. Airport officials blamed shortage of CISF personnel for the long queues.
The issue was discussed at a meeting between the airport authorities and airlines on Friday, sources said.
“An additional security hold area on the arrival level of the terminal has been created for passengers taking domestic transfers from one city to another,” an official at the airport said.
“Additional CISF personnel are required there, along with some other security points. The older survey for CISF manpower did not include these. Also, some personnel have been transferred and their replacements are yet to arrive. Applications have been sent to the ministry of home affairs. The problem will be resolved soon,” the official said.
Earlier, the queues would be mostly at the standalone baggage X-ray counters and check-in counters of the airlines. Fliers no longer have to queue up to get their registered luggage scanned as the airport has installed an inline baggage scanning system.
Queues at airline counters have reduced as most passengers have been opting for web check-in following the outbreak of Covid.
However, officials of airlines and the airport said, queues in the departure area have lengthened because of shortage of CISF personnel.
Passengers alleged that they had to stand in queues for nearly 40 minutes to get to the boarding gate. The queues are mainly in the domestic section. The passenger footfall in the international section has not yet picked up in the post-Covid phase.
Businessman Rajesh Gidwani boarded an IndiGo flight to Ahmedabad that took off at 5.40am on Monday. "I reached the airport at 3.40am and had to wait for around 20 minutes at the entry gate number 1A. It took me about a minute to drop my luggage at the airline counter. Then I had to stand for another 20 minutes in the queue for security check,” he said.
Airport officials said passenger footfall had gone up during the summer holiday season, though it is still much lower than the pre-pandemic average.
On Sunday, the airport had 24,980 departing passengers in the domestic section. The number was only 2,391 in the international section.
On May 28, 24,696 passengers departed from the domestic section and 2,664 from the international section.
“The number is more than the pandemic times but not as high as the pre-pandemic period. Before the pandemic, the airport handled between 65,000 and 70,000 passengers daily. Now, the number is around 55,000,” said an official of the airport.